How to contact Researchers once you are accepted

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Joined: Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:21 pm

How to contact Researchers once you are accepted

Post by fmblanco » Mon Feb 19, 2018 7:51 pm

I'm a physics student from Argentina and I've just been accepted for a Physics PhD in Cornell University. There are a few groups that I really like and I was wondering if it is a common thing to mail them introducing myself and asking if it is possible that there is going to be an available position for me in the future. I wouldn't like to study there for a year to find out that the groups I like wouldn't have taken me in the first place. Thanks!

P.D.: Also, does anybody know when does research begins? I thought that the PhD program was 1 year of courses and then research, but now I've read that there are actually 2 years of courses before you join a research group.

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Re: How to contact Researchers once you are accepted

Post by TakeruK » Tue Feb 20, 2018 3:43 am

Yes, you should do this.

Whether research begins right away, after 1 year of courses, or after 2 years depends on the program. I had considered Cornell too (but in a different department) and it was 2 semesters of just courses in the first year and then you find an RAship in the first summer to begin research. Beyond that you do both courses and research. Some students choose to take the first summer off from research to study for quals. My Cornell funding package was only for 9 months at first but I could get summer funding if I took an RAship that summer.

At the school I actually went to for my PhD, it's about 1.3 years of courses but you must do research at the same time. So research begins right away and you work in two different groups at once during your first year. At the end of the first year, you have a long oral exam in which you present the two projects and answer questions from an exam committee on them.

At another school I considered, it's 2 years of courses but you do some research the whole time. You have your qualifying exam at the end of the 2nd year so it's expected you spend most of your time on courses in the first two years but you certainly start a research project too.

Just showing/saying there are a lot of different ways that programs run. You should definitely ask about them at each school you are considering.

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Re: How to contact Researchers once you are accepted

Post by astroprof » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:15 am

Now that you have been accepted, it is perfectly reasonable to contact professors to see if they will be accepting students into their research group next year. In your email, you should be sure to include the information that you have been accepted to the graduate program and that you will not be able to attend the graduate recruitment visit days since you are an international student. I also recommend asking if you could be put in contact with one of their current graduate students so that you can ask the student(s) what their experiences have been (both at the school and in the research group).

Many (but not all!) Physics programs have a common set of courses for the first year and then choices of courses for the next two years (including the choice not to take classes). The qualifying exams are often (but not always!) over the first year courses. Because of the intensity of the first year coursework, it is often common for students to begin their serious research endeavors during the summer after their first year. However, I would be surprised to hear of any program that did not have students working on research projects during their second year concurrent with, or in replacement of, coursework.

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